Attrition is a natural part of running an organization. There are always going to be employees who choose to leave for various reasons, and different opportunities.
Top performers are a unique sub-set of employees, whose talents are highly coveted. Losing a star player can be especially disruptive, so businesses devote extensive resources to retain their top executives and leaders. They understand that losing strong performers exacts high costs in terms of search and replacement costs, lost institutional knowledge, and reduced productivity.
The departure of a key employee, however, also presents a unique opportunity for companies to learn about themselves, their personnel policies, operations, hierarchy, and management. Exit interviews are the perfect method for tapping into the unique perspective departing personnel possessed before they walk out the door for the last time.
Since they are not concerned about repercussions, no jobholder will ever be as brutally honest and forthcoming about issues within your company as an employee who has turned in his resignation and is heading towards the door. This offers an invaluable opportunity that should be leveraged.
Exit interviews can expose ways to improve personnel and compensation policies that will eventually reduce turnover and improve overall team morale. To get the most out of exit interviews, craft questions with specific ends in mind:
- Transferring information that will help the replacement become proficient more quickly. Departing employees – assuming they are leaving voluntarily – usually are happy to provide honest, objective feedback. After all, they have no fear of being disciplined for speaking their minds.
- Determining policies (compensation, succession, disciplinary, etc.) that led the person to leave. His dissatisfaction may be shared by others. If so, the policies may need to be reexamined.
- Gaining insight into issues related to the specific position, such as the reporting manager’s leadership style, workload, morale, or other demands that could be improved in order to make the department more efficient or pleasant. The interview also may uncover gaps in training or the on-boarding process that left the employee ill-equipped for the position.
- It is smart to have an Exit Interview Form created well in advance for when you are going to need it, in order to full maximize the opportunity to gain insights into your company’s deficiencies. Take some time to put together a list of questions that you want to cover.
In addition to having multiple questions, be sure to leave room for comments, so departing employees can share concerns and feedback that you may not have even thought to ask about.
There is also great value in periodically sending out anonymous surveys to your employees, asking for feedback about company policies, compensation, commission plans, etc., On these surveys, remember to add open space for comments as well, since occasionally the biggest issues are those that are not even on leaderships radar screen. Doing this on a periodic, consistent basis, can often times bring concerns to management’s attention with the opportunity to address them before those concerns result in mass departures. It is a shame when a company loses key employees over issues that they were blind to. Conducting quarterly anonymous surveys gives employees the opportunity to share those concerns without fear of repercussions.
Management should also make a point of checking out websites such as Glassdoor, which provides a platform for current and former employees of company to share insights about company culture, pay structures, management styles, etc.
When we take a search assignment, one of the first things we do is go into Glassdoor to see what employees report about the company’s culture, etc. When you see multiple people all reporting the same thing, it bears investigation. It never ceases to amaze me when multiple people consistently report specific negatives about a company, and when we bring those concerns to leadership’s attention, that they are surprised.
If you want to know what your current and former employees really feel about your company, consistently employ exit interviews, conduct quarterly anonymous surveys, and check out Glassdoor for the brutal truth. Armed with this knowledge, you can work towards addressing concerns and make improvements .
Well thought out Exit Interviews should help departments collect information and focus on improvement of all their endeavors, including culture, operations, management, customer service, marketing support, human resources, and inter-departmental relations.
They also send a powerful message to remaining employees that the company is serious about nurturing them, improving their working conditions, and helping them succeed. The value in LISTENING to frank feedback is something that cannot be emphasized too much. Having your remaining team know that you heard the concerns shared, and are working to make improvements, will go a long ways towards stemming a mass exodus.